First published 8 Janurary, 1997
However, and perhaps predictably, market leader Toshiba doesn't expect to see a change in the unit-shifting hierachy.
"I don't think there will be such a big shake up in the UK this year," said Murray McKerlie, notebooks product marketing manager for Toshiba. "There can't be room for everyone to remain and grow, but the mainstream will remain pretty much as you were last year with Toshiba leading. The smaller players seem to have discovered where they can hang on, with higher-spec machines at rock bottom prices."
McKerlie said Toshiba will not try out non-Intel processors in its notebooks, such as AMD's expected low-power version of the K6, but smaller suppliers might: "A manufacturer's relationship with Intel or Microsoft is crucial to its success, and they are as reliant on us as we are on them."
"There's no reason why some vendors shouldn't try out new AMD chips if they offer a performance increase over Intel chips," said Tony Bunn, mobile product marketing manager for Digital, but insisted Digital itself plans to stay with Intel.
Separately, Bunn added: "Vendors cannot compromise on portability, though by the middle of this year, corporates will demand a thin, light, portable solution." He said Digital has made a notebook with a 13.3-inch screen, but "there is a stage where the LCD cannot get any larger."
However, Dell said this year will see a shake down in the notebook sector: "Sharp is coming into the market with good backing and a strong product, and Siemens is ramping up," said Julian Phillips, Dell's notebook business manager. "But the less committed firms who dabbled in notebooks and added quirky bits of technology to the notebooks will have difficulties. It's going to be a tough year for AST, for example, which is on the periphery of being a big player but doesn't have the customer loyalty."